16 Charming Towns Where You Can Live on a Houseboat (2023)

Head for the Water


16 Charming Towns Where You Can Live on a Houseboat (1)

Motivated by a desire to ditch their rent or mortgage payment, reduce their carbon footprint, or simply enjoy killer views and fresh air, some homeowners choose to swap their landlocked lodgings for houseboats. When they do, they flock to certain towns that, by virtue of their marinas, amenities, and attractions, are ideally situated for a floating existence. Whether you plan to live on your houseboat seasonally or become a year-round liveaboard, these towns offer everything you need to live your best life on the water.

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Sausalito, California


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Otis Redding famously sang of “sittin’ on the dock of the bay” in this Northern California town where more than 400 houseboats line numerous marinas and harbors. Sausalito sits on Richardson Bay, which has sheltered houseboats for more than a century, although the eye-popping pink, blue, and red counterculture icons the town is known for date to the postwar era. Today, houseboat communities like Galilee Harbor continue to attract an eclectic mix of residents. If you’re curious but not ready to commit to life on water, check out the Sausalito Floating Homes tour, held every September.

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Fort Washington, Maryland


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Not surprisingly, this town overlooking the Potomac River, the fourth-largest river on the Atlantic coast, draws fans of the floating life who want to moor a mere half hour from the U.S. capital. The Fort Washington Marina is one of the most popular houseboat communities in the area. Sharp-eyed cinephiles might recognize itas the filming location for the 1950s Sophia Loren-Cary Grant flick "Houseboat." Although the marina is open only from May through October, it offers houseboat owners more than 200 boat slips and new concrete docks for vessels up to 60 feet.



Portland, Oregon


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Portland contains the largest houseboat community in the country, with some 1,400 floating homes in the area. Moorages run up and down the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, just a short drive to North Portland’s speakeasies and food carts. As a bonus, Oregon imposes no sales tax, so you'll save a bit when you buy a houseboat.


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Piermont, New York


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With skyrocketing real estate prices in the Big Apple, some residents have headed 30 miles upriver to this village on the western edge of the Hudson. It's become a hub for houseboat dwellers thanks toits proximity to bohemian lounges, art galleries, and restaurants, and itsextensive pier overlooking Tallman Mountain. Some marinas, including Tappan Zee Marina, rent slips by the day, season, or all year.


Hot Springs, Arkansas


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Although this southern resort town is best known for its natural geothermal springs, it’s also a hot spot for houseboat enthusiasts. Lake Ouachita, the largest in Arkansas, attracts vacationers who just want a floating hotel for a weekend as well as liveaboards who long for year-round views of the Ouachita Mountains and Ouachita National Forest. Brady Mountain Resort & Marina offers 650 boat slips, some of which accommodate boats up to 100 feet long.



Shasta Lake, California


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Waterfalls, well-maintained trails, and a Mediterranean climate make the eponymous man-made lake in this Northern California haunt an ideal spot to stow a houseboat. At 4.6 million acre-feet, Shasta Lake is the largest reservoir in the state. As you'd expect, it offers a wealth of mooring points, but Bridge Bay Marina is noteworthy for its central location, easy access from the interstate, and slip rentals for transient as well as long-term visitors.

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Page, Arizona


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A portal to Glen Canyon National Park, the town of Page sees 3 million visitors each year, but it's home to only 7,200 residents, among them a thriving community of houseboat dwellers on the 24.3-million acre-foot Lake Powell. The lake is lined with marinas, including Antelope Point, a Navajo-nation owned and operated marina rife with amenities.

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Branson, Missouri


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The country shows that line West 76 Country Boulevard transformed Branson into a top destination for music lovers. But it’s the 3.5-million-acre-foot Table Rock Lake that makes the mountain town in the Ozarks a hit with houseboat owners. The fishing- and paddleboard-friendly reservoir that hugs Table Rock State Park is home to a number of marinas, including the park’s own, which leases both transient and year-round slips to houseboat owners and offers amenities like a dockside restaurant and a store with boating essentials.



Demopolis, Alabama


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The Tombigbee and Black Warrior Rivers played an important role in the history of Demopolis. The area was initiallysettled by French expatriates who later moved up the the Warrior River. Americans purchased the land they left behind and over time transformed it into amajor river port and lumber town. Today, an impressive collection of houseboats moor at the juncture of these two rivers. The Demopolis Yacht Basin and other marinas welcome both seasonal houseboat dwellers and liveaboards, and offer easy access to nearby campgrounds, restaurants, and the town's Greek-Revival-style house museums.


Fort Myers, Florida


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16 Charming Towns Where You Can Live on a Houseboat (11)

The 156-mile Okeechobee Waterway, which extends from Fort Myers on Florida’s east coast to Stuart on its west, has long been a magnet for maritime enthusiasts. But while some are content to sit by the water watching the barges and private vessels bob along the cool currents, others prefer to be part of the action. For those who long to be on the water, the municipal marina, Fort Myers Yacht Basin, borders the downtown district and offers rental slips and docks for transients and liveaboards alike along with an on-site ship store and restaurants.


Brunswick, Georgia


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The mainland port city of Brunswick, which is considered part of the Golden Isles of Georgia, was a booming shipbuilding center during World War II, producing 99 ships—primarily cargo ships—for the war effort. Today, the seaside town lures boating enthusiasts with three bordering rivers and an inland waterway. On the East River, marinas entice liveaboards with rare amenities like a dog park, yoga classes, and parties for every major national holiday.



Annapolis, Maryland


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America’s sailing capital is an alluring anchorage for houseboat owners. Its attractions include the U.S. Naval Academy and the quaint row houses of Historic Annapolis as well the country’s largest estuary, Chesapeake Bay, and its famous lighthouses, maritime museums, and dock bars. If you need a place to berth your boat, Eastport Yacht Center and other full-service marinas located just off the bay rent out monthly and annual slips to transients and liveaboards.


Friday Harbor, Washington


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Drop anchor in the waters off this seaside town, the commercial hub of the San Juan Islands, and you'll be able to wake up to the sight of majestic whales and orcas as well as enchanting old-growth trees. Year-round, you can park floating pads up to 80 feet long at the Port of Friday Harbor, in close proximity to area galleries, ship stores, and theaters.


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Hilton Head Island, South Carolina


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In this resort town and barrier island off South Carolina’s coast, houseboat enthusiasts can hop off their vessels to explore diverse ecosystems ranging from beaches to salt marshes, inhabited by white-tailed deer, the occasional alligator, and birds like the great blue heron. While you’re getting the lay of the land, moor your houseboat at area facilities like the Palmetto Bay Marina, the town's oldest, which offers both transient and long-term slips.



Corpus Christi, Texas


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This seaside community overlooking the Gulf Coast not only boasts sandy beaches and endangered species like the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, but also has the only major downtown marina on the state’s coast. The marina is just a skip away from area restaurants, museums, and nightlife, and it offers 560 slips, open to both transients and liveaboards.


Huddleston, Virginia


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Although home buyers targeting Huddleston can choose from quaint cottages and vacation retreats overlooking Smith Mountain Lake, the best views of the 1.1-million-acre-foot reservoir dubbed the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains” may be from the lake itself. Such prime water views can be yours if you dock a houseboat at one of the lake's many marinas, including Mitchell’s Point Marina & RV Park, which offers year-round docking leases. If you're struck by a sudden longing for land, just head to the north shore of Smith Mountain Lake for a picnic or hike along miles of trails.

Virginia State Parks via Flickr.com

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Where is the best place to live on a houseboat? ›

The best places to live on a houseboat are Miami, Florida; Lake Havasu, Arizona; Sausalito, California; Fort Washington, Maryland; Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Hot Springs, Arkansas; Shasta Lake, California; Lake Cumberland, Kentucky; and Fort Worth, Texas.

What are the cons of living on a houseboat? ›

The Disadvantages to Living on a Houseboat

There are additional fees involved with living on a houseboat. In addition to payments on the boat itself, you likely will have to pay rental fees for the slip you are using in the marina. A houseboat typically has less living space than in a traditional single-family home.

Can you live on a houseboat in Kentucky? ›

Houseboats are available to rent from numerous marinas on lakes across the state. Lake Cumberland in Southern Kentucky Vacations region is known as the “Houseboating Capital of the World” and has the country's largest fleet of rental houseboats.

Can you live on a houseboat in SC? ›

(A) It is unlawful for a person to operate or float a houseboat on the waters of this State unless it has a marine toilet that discharges only into a holding tank.

What is the houseboat capital of the world? ›

Monticello, Kentucky is known as the "Houseboat Capital of the World." Today one can find motorized houseboats with over 2,000 sq ft (200 m2) of living space.

Is it cheaper to live on a houseboat? ›

To save money, most will rent a houseboat instead of buying one. This is a better option if you are unsure about the idea of living in the water. It is also good for those who are on a budget.

Is living on a houseboat cold? ›

Myth #4: You get cold feet on a houseboat

Actually, the opposite is true in most cases. Apart from good floor insulation, you will find a lot of houseboats that are equipped with floor heating. This creates a very comfortable atmosphere. And there are many houseboats that offer a wood stove burner as well.

Are houseboats cold in winter? ›

The first question we should answer is: do all houseboat owners have cold feet as soon as the temperature drops? The answer is pretty simple: no, of course not. The reason for this is that these floating homes are designed to accommodate people all year round.

Can you live on a houseboat permanently? ›

Unlike many other types of boats, houseboats are meant for spending extended time aboard. Most people choose to use their houseboat for vacationing and weekending, but some do live aboard their houseboat full-time.

Can you live in a houseboat year round in Tennessee? ›

Yes, the weather in Tennessee isn't too extreme, making living onboard year-round possible. Additionally, there are no state-wide laws prohibiting living onboard full time.

What states have common houseboats? ›

Kerala Houseboat

Kerala is renowned for its magnificent vistas, rich vegetation, and houseboats, in addition to its backwaters. The traditional houseboat of Kerala is known by the name Kettuvallam. The greatest areas in Kerala for houseboat vacations include Alappuzha, Vembanad, and Kollam.

How much is the property tax on a boat in Kentucky? ›

The state tax rate on the boats is 1.5 cents for each $100 of assessed value, compared to a rate of 45 cents on non-documented watercraft such as bass boats.

Do people who live on houseboats pay council tax? ›

You may have to pay council tax if you live on a houseboat with a residential mooring.

Is a houseboat tax deductible? ›

For federal tax purposes, a boat or a recreational vehicle can be either your main or secondary residence, entitling you to take advantage of the same tax deductions as a homeowner of a typical house.

Can I retire on a houseboat? ›

For many sea-loving seniors, retirement houseboats are an option. In fact, statistics show that as many as 9,000 people in the United States and Canada have chosen retirement houseboats. You still eat, sleep, and shower there. Instead of a lawn, you have water all around you.

What city has the most houseboats? ›

Portland contains the largest houseboat community in the country, with some 1,400 floating homes in the area. Moorages run up and down the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, just a short drive to North Portland's speakeasies and food carts.

Which place is famous for houseboat? ›

Kerala is the most commonly known destination for houseboat activities in India.

Which city is famous for houseboats and garden? ›

Which city is famous for houseboats and gardens? Srinagar is famous for houseboats and gardens.

Do houseboats require a lot of maintenance? ›

It's great for boats because it doesn't require much maintenance. It's also much easier to get a fiberglass boat financed and insured because of the low risk of damage. Wooden boats have an advantage over fiberglass boats because they're much cheaper.

How long does a boat house last? ›

Even without maintenance, a professionally installed dock and boathouse will last an average of 15 to 20 years.

Do you need a mortgage for a house boat? ›

So, can you get a mortgage for a houseboat? The answer is often no. Floating homes can be considered permanent residences and therefore qualify for specific mortgages – such as a floating home loan – which often come with similar terms as traditional home loans.

Can you flush toilet paper on a houseboat? ›

Never flush anything that didn't come out of you.

Hopefully you already know that the only thing that should go down your marine head is human waste and toilet paper — with no exceptions.

Do houseboats make you sick? ›

No movement, no sea sickness

Most houseboats we rent are moored, fixed to the canal walls. They will hardly move or not move at all, even with severe winds. Please bear in mind that most houseboats are very heavy and therefore won't really be affected by waves.

Do houseboats get struck by lightning? ›

Trawlers have the highest rate for powerboats (two per 1,000), and lightning has struck houseboats, bass boats, and even PWCs. Lightning-strike repairs tend to be expensive and time-consuming, but there are things you can do to lessen the damage after a strike.

Is driving a houseboat easy? ›

Driving a houseboat is a lot easier than you might imagine. Many vacationers renting houseboats are beginners. Houseboat manufacturers are aware of this. As a result, they've created a control system that is simple to use and intuitive, so you won't ever have to stress while you're on the water.

Is driving a houseboat hard? ›

Driving a houseboat is not much different than driving a car. The marina staff goes over all instructions in an orientation upon your arrival, and they'll typically help you pilot the houseboat in and out of the marina itself; you just take over on open water!

How do you use the bathroom on a houseboat? ›

Houseboats have sewage holding tanks that are located on the boat itself. The sink and shower will empty into a gray-water holding tank, whereas the toilet will empty into a black-water holding tank.

Can you live on a houseboat in winter? ›

They sit at the margins of land and sea. But while many houseboats are kept for occasional use, some are home to a hardy breed of year-round residents.

Can you get WIFI on a houseboat? ›

Do houseboats have Wi-Fi? The good news is that houseboats do, in fact, have Wi-Fi. You basically attach an external antenna to the outside of your boat and link it to a router inside your boat via Ethernet cable to amplify the Wi-Fi signal. Alternatively, you can even use your phone to provide data for other devices.

What is the difference between a houseboat and a floating home? ›

Difference between floating home and houseboat

The biggest difference between a floating home and a houseboat is movement. While houseboats can move freely, floating houses cannot. They rely on local sewer and utility lines, and they do not have motors built into them.

What happens to houseboats in winter? ›

A lot of folks will leave their boats in the water during the winter, and if the water will freeze, they often use a Bubbler System or a Dock De-Icer to move and aerate the surrounding water around the boats hull, this way the water won't freeze.

Why can't you live in a boat for more than 30 days in Georgia? ›

In 1992, the Georgia legislature made it illegal to spend more than 30 days on a boat in one calendar year. Run-down floating houses along the Altamaha River were the impetus of this legislation; residents found these houseboats ugly and were concerned about their effect on the environment.

Can you live on a houseboat on the Tennessee River? ›

Yes, you can live on a boat full-time in Tennessee and there are no state-wide laws banning it.

What state has the most houseboats? ›

Houseboating is most prevalent in Texas, Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota, Florida, Kentucky, and California. These states host numerous liveaboards, houseboat rental agencies, and plenty of vessels on the market.

In which city do people only travel by houseboats? ›

Udupi Houseboat, Karnataka

House Boat at Udupi, introduced at Swarna river is the first and only backwater property in coastal Karnataka.

What lake has the most houseboats on it? ›

Some would say Lake Cumberland is THE Houseboat Capital of the World. It's the largest lake by volume in the US east of the Mississippi River, and boasts 1,200 miles of shoreline on three state parks and the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Do you have to pay taxes on a boat every year in Kentucky? ›

Taxpayers must annually register the following watercraft with the County Clerk in the county of location.

Is boat insurance required in Kentucky? ›

Although Kentucky doesn't require boaters have Kentucky boat insurance, it's a wise investment.

What is the tax life of a boat? ›

A new boat is expected to depreciate for anywhere from 7 to 10 years after purchase, on average. After that 10 year mark, you can generally expect your boat to be worth $100 per each foot of the boat.

Is council tax cheaper if you live alone? ›

Single person discount

If you are the only adult resident in your home, you are eligible for a 25% discount on your council tax. This should have been applied to your bill if we already know that you live alone.

Where can I moor my boat for free UK? ›

Most visitor moorings on canals and rivers governed by the Canal & River Trust are often free of charge. You are permitted to moor almost anywhere alongside canal towpaths for no fee, as long as you are not causing an obstruction to the waterway.

Do you need a solicitor to buy a houseboat? ›

Do I to employ a Solicitor? No, you do not need a solicitor to purchase a houseboat.

Can you live on a boat and not pay taxes? ›

So, do you have to pay taxes if you live on a boat? Yes, you still have to pay taxes when you reside on a liveaboard boat. However, there are ways to minimize your tax bill as well as multiple tax advantages of living on a boat.

Is a houseboat considered a second home? ›

Boat as a Second Home Tax Deduction

A boat is considered a second home for federal tax purposes if it has a head (bathroom) a bed (sleeping berth) and a galley (kitchen). You'll need IRS Form 1098 to deduct the interest and also any points paid to secure a loan.

How do house flippers avoid taxes? ›

Flip Your Own Home

If flipping houses isn't your main source of income, you can reduce taxes on a sale by using the Section 121 exclusion. This allows you to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain on your taxes (or up to $500,000 if you're married and filing jointly).

How much does a houseboat cost per month? ›

The cost of living on a houseboat depends on many factors. On average, it costs $22,200 per year or roughly $1,850 per month. Take note that it does not include the cost of the houseboat itself, which is what will take the biggest toll on your budget.

Can you permanently live on a houseboat? ›

Unlike many other types of boats, houseboats are meant for spending extended time aboard. Most people choose to use their houseboat for vacationing and weekending, but some do live aboard their houseboat full-time.

Is living on a house boat a good idea? ›

The upshot is that living on a houseboat “can be done very cheaply or very expensively”, says Read. “The main thing... is only buy a boat if you love the lifestyle. While on the outside it might look cheaper and romantic, you might find that a day every fortnight is taken up doing chores.”

What state are common houseboats? ›

Backwaters Houseboat, Kerala

The house boats have all the amenities cosy living rooms,kitchen and balcony for angling. Alappuzha,Kollam and Kumarakom are the citadel of house boats in Kerala, mostly in Vembanad Lake and Ashtamudi Lake.

Which city is famous for houseboat? ›

Udupi , Karnataka

The only backwater in Karnataka that rents out houseboats are the Swarna River in Udupi. This boat is not stationary; rather, it is in motion. The excursion will take you past villages rich in culture, coconut plantations, and the beauty of the untainted river surrounds.

Can you live tax free on a boat? ›

Living at home doesn't necessarily mean you have to be tethered to one place. For federal tax purposes, a boat or a recreational vehicle can be either your main or secondary residence, entitling you to take advantage of the same tax deductions as a homeowner of a typical house.

What are the cons of living on a boat? ›

Lack of Space

This may be one of the main drawbacks of living aboard your boat, especially if you are looking to house more than one person. Boats, whilst incredibly space-efficient, do not give much space for storage. After your boat is furnished and fully equipped, you will quickly run out of room.

Which city is famous for houseboat and gardens? ›

Which city is famous for houseboats and gardens? Srinagar is famous for houseboats and gardens.

How long do houseboats last? ›

The average lifespan of a houseboat is around 30 years, but most vessels can last for much longer. A well-cared-for houseboat can last 50 years or longer, especially when constructed with fiberglass. The primary reason houseboats don't exceed their typical service life is because of neglect.

Which city is known as city of boat? ›

Kochi ([koˈtːʃi ] ( listen)), also known as Cochin (/ˈkoʊtʃɪn/ KOH-chin) (the official name until 1996) is a major port city on the Malabar Coast of India bordering the Laccadive Sea, which is a part of the Arabian Sea.

What is the point of a houseboat? ›

Although the purpose of a houseboat is similar to any other shelter on land -- to provide us with a place to live and sleep and store our food and belongings -- living aboard is a much different experience.


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